Review Summary: So what does Jew groove sound like?
Israel is known for quite a few things, none among which is its standout metal bands. In fact, Betzefer
ranks as one of the only Israeli bands in the genre to really have any meaningful following at all. So, you may be wondering to yourself, what exactly would an Israeli metal band sound like? Would they bring any new ideas to the table, any interesting quirks to pick through?
It turns out the answer is no. If you were to tell the average or even more well-seasoned listener that Betzefer hails from the good ol' American south it's unlikely they'd hesitate or second guess it. Fans of the groove metal style of Pantera
or Lamb of God
will find themselves largely at home here and require no adjustment period or time to get acquainted, as the familiar riffs come early and often. The excellent "Copkiller" is sure to remind of classic Dimebag guitar work, with an extraordinarily chunky intro riff that flows into an equally thick verse riff that is deliciously sinister.
Vocalist Avital Tamir remains competent throughout, although the monotony of his delivery does become apparent at times, especially during many of the albums rather unremarkable verse sections. The fantastic "Cannibal" opens with some much welcomed death growls from Tamir, however it makes one question why he doesn't play with them more to break up his usual yelling passages. This negative is also highlighted by the band's lack of willingness to experiment with different and creative song structures, as they largely follow the traditional verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus template, often to a fault.
As such, "Cash" is perhaps the first track on the album to truly set itself apart, demonstrating some needed variety in the band's sound. Likewise, "Suicide Hotline Pt. 2" sees the group letting themselves open up a bit to breathe and flash some versatility that they frequently shy away from in favor of straightforward, no-nonsense cuts. Guitarist Matan Cohen clearly has chops, but he seems reticent to flex them except on rare occasion.
Nevertheless, the production and the riffs are the display piece for The Devil Went Down to the Holy Land
, and they are sufficient to carry the album despite its visible shortcomings. Even a song with lyrics as contrived as "I Hate" proves worthwhile due to its opening and closing riffs, which almost compel a smile. Songs like "Milk", with its Down
-esque, sludgy, viscous tone, are simply too enjoyable to pass up.
Recommended, albeit with reservations.